The horticulture sector to receive new policy

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The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has mapped the road for the horticulture sector to develop the sector’s strategy and policy. The strategy was embedded to make the future bright for the sector and to increase the revenue that the country ought to deserve.
On similar lines the Ethiopian Horticulture Producers Exporters Association (EHPEA) has launched an accredited TVET Training Institute.
The horticulture sector has quickly risen to become the top hard currency earning commodity in the country with less than a decade and half worth of effort. However, the sector does not have a policy. To this regard the MoA has been engaged to come up with policy and strategy to boost the potential that country has on the sector.
Wondale Habtamu, State Minister of MoA, said that the roadmap which is a top priority with regards to the strategy and policy has been concluded after several months of preparation.
“The draft roadmap has been concluded and now needs final validation and accreditation and at the same time the strategy and policy are under process and we expected in the near future it will bear fruit,” he told Capital.
He said that the road map has detail analysis including knowing and understanding every single crop in the country and every document has been reviewed not only in the country but also internationally.
He added that the Ministry had mainly been involved in the undertaking of the roadmap development while EHPEA and Ethiopian Agriculture Council Secretariat have played vital role.
From the horticulture sector, the floriculture has a dominant role in terms of earning, while the fruit and vegetable sector is showing growth.
Regarding expanding the development of the fruit and vegetable sub sector, the roadmap has identified several ideal projects.
“Final right up for nine vegetable and fruits crops project document has already been done. For instance, avocado has become a national project that will increase the country’s production widely and others like banana, green peas, onion, tomato, potato, mango, and sugar snap have got specific project interventions,” the State Minister said.
Tewodros Zewdie, Executive Director of EHPEA, said that the fruit and vegetable sector will have a bright future since the business environment like available: land, infrastructure and logistics boost suitability for investors thus the country has a huge opportunity to generate in billions of dollars.
He said that the agriculture sector in general has major contributions to the country’s economy and it will have a good vision to solve problems that the association is working on for the past years. He said that the association has played its part on the new policy development.
“In general the agriculture policy that was ratified about two decades ago is now revised. We have also provided our input to expand the horticulture sector, which shall create huge labour and earnings,” he told Capital.
He showed that the floriculture sector so far has developed only on 1,600 hectare but it contributed significant jobs for non-skilled and skilled labour and foreign currency earnings, “If we can make it double, we shall reap more jobs,” he explained.
He emphasized that the fruit and vegetable sector should get more attention so as to tap the potential.
Capacity building
On the ceremony that was held on January 28 at Hilton Hotel EHPEA has launched its accredited Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Institution.
Since 2007 the association has been providing trainings for members to enable them to be certified on international standards that allow local horticulture actors to sell their products in big markets all over the world.
The State Minister said that currently there are 45 universities and other higher education institutions that may have good expertise in theory but practical training is required that will be filled by the new facility that EHPEA has launched.
“Massive production does not mean higher revenue, sometime small but valuable revenue shall be earned. To that, knowledge based production is crucial,” he says, “We need to produce international standard based manners like globally accredited Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) for better revenue that will be supported by this kind of skill capacity building facilities.”
“We hope that similar accredited practical colleges shall be opened in the future,” he told Capital.
Wondale said that the TVET will play a big role to expand hard currency earnings from the horticulture sector, “It will help us to export products as per international standard and enable us to get additional reward. Furthermore, it will aid the farmers to produce more because of better earnings.”
Tewodros said that because of different reasons like climate, water, location, vast land, cost of doing business Ethiopia has better opportunities to compete on the horticulture sector globally.
“From our journey in the past, about 13 years, we understand that we shall generate massive hard currency, creating huge job and knowledge transfer from small investment land. There are several investors involved on the sector but due to lack of skilled labour several managers were coming from India, Israel, and Kenya or from the Netherlands,” he says.
“To this consideration several higher education institutions have opened new departments related with the horticulture sector, but so far adequate professionals mainly on practical sectors like standards, agronomy and perishable logistics are not available,” he explained reminded the bottleneck that the sector is facing for further growth.
“We have provided the trainings as per the industry demands, which is a good experience that the association accumulated and allows for the expansion of the skill development further,” Tewodros said.
To launch the TVET Training Institute a study that involved different actors including Bavaria Employers’ Associations from abroad was encompassed, the association contributed on the training manual development and experience sharing and other supports.
Some of the training packages will have an option for smallholders’ farmers to get capacity building for free.
Mikyas Bekele, Deputy Dean TVET Training Institute, said that the upgraded institute has been established at the end of the past budget year.
He said that the center will provide several trainings. “In the past we have been focused on flower, herbs, fruit and vegetable sector but now we have expanded our scope and addressed other industries across the value chain mainly on the export sector,” the Deputy Dean explained.
“Our trainings is extraordinary because it is practical that is given at farms,” he added
“The centre will deliver tailor made and practical trainings. This will contribute to further unlock the ample opportunities in the Ethiopian horticulture industry,” Mikyas told Capital.
He said that the sector is dynamic that needs frequent and timely capacity building and training to fit in the completion.
The centre has a capacity to provide training for close to 10,000 trainers per year.
EHPEA has, so far, delivered training to about 50,000 farm workers.